Richard aspires to live and love like Christ. Among his varied other writing interests, he aims to create good Christian stories.
The bible can incite our admiration, commiseration, and even shock when we read about the lives of those it depicts. Some repel us, others humble us, but most readers will find at least one bible character with whom they feel a great rapport. I find Daniel to be one of those characters. Not because of any significant similarity between our lives, but because in him I see a way of life to be imitated.
This article will be no more than an overview of the book of Daniels life and those he was involved with.
Daniel was a man who lived during the nation of Judah's captivity in Babylon. Throughout their history, there had been moral heights and depths in the lives of the kings of Judah; a pattern always imitated by Judah's people. Kings such as David, Asa, Jehosaphat, Joash, Jotham, Hezekiah and Josiah were what we could call spiritual giants. Though not without defects, we are told that it was due to their faith that the nation of Judah was spared from destruction for a long period of time. However, the majority of Judah’s kings did not abide on the same moral high ground of faith, descending instead into some of the grossest of sins and idolatries we read about in scripture.
So it was, after many warnings, that God ordered his judgement against them. One that would ultimately end in the nation's captivity in Babylon.
Exile to Babylon
After Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had defeated the nation of Judah, he instructed his officials to bring only the best of the children of Judah, the king's descendants, and the nobles of Judah to Babylon. They all had to be men without defect; handsome, gifted in all areas of wisdom and intelligence, and quick to grasp new concepts. These men were to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians—Chaldean—to the end that they would be fit to serve in the king's palace.
Among these hand-picked young men, stood Daniel, an obviously healthy, handsome, wise and quick-witted individual; but also a young man with deep respect and love for the will of his God.
After Daniel and his young contemporaries had been chosen, they were put under the supervision and training of the chief of the Eunuchs in the king's court. It is highly probable that as part of their preparation, they too were made to become eunuchs.
Within Jewish society and law, a castrated man existed as an outcast to his people. Further separating these young men from their previous lives, they were stripped of their Hebrew names in favour of Babylonian ones. Daniels was changed to Belteshazzar.
- Was Daniel made a eunuch in Babylon?
Was Daniel made a eunuch in Babylon? Since Daniel was a servant of the king of Babylon, does that mean he was castrated?
For many, all these experiences may well have broken any cord of faith they had. However, during his official three-year training course, Daniels faith would be strained like few others have been.
The young men chosen for palace service preparation were instructed to eat of the king's delicacies for their meals and to drink of his wine. Certain of these delicacies, however, were unclean according to Gods law and therefore not to be consumed. Being a man who knew the scriptures and was aware of this law, Daniel rejected the king's wishes; determining in the heart that he would not defile himself in this regard though it would mean almost certain punishment.
Providentially, Daniel had come into the favour and kindness of the Chief Eunuch. And although fearing for his own head, the chief eunuch agrees to allow Daniel to stick to a diet of vegetables and water for a period of no more than ten days. After which, if Daniel didn’t appear at least as healthy as the others who had taken from the king's table, then the eunuch would be free to do as he wished with Daniel's diet.
At the conclusion of ten days, Daniel was brought forward and stood beside all those who had eaten of the king's delicacies. It was seen that he was healthier in appearance and more handsome of the face than all who had eaten of the richer foods.
Beyond the possible dietary lesson here, we learn a more important spiritual truth: that good comes from obeying God; but not always without opposition, as we shall see.
Upon demonstrating his faith, Daniel is blessed by God with knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom and the unique ability to understand visions and dreams; a talent that God would later use to elevate Daniel to greatness.
Now at the end of this three year preparation period, all the young men were presented before the king. Four of whom were considered far better than all the rest: Daniel and three others—who along with Daniel had not defiled themselves to eat of the king's food, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. In wisdom and understanding, Nebuchadnezzar considered these four as ten-times superior to all the wise men of Babylon. They were therefore chosen to serve before the king.
Dreams From God And Impossible Demands
Have you ever had dreams that kept waking you up, nightmares?
In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, he started having dreams. Troubling dreams of the type that wake you up in alarm and a cold sweat. Dreams that so disturbed him, he eventually summoned all the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and other wise men of his kingdom together and gave them a royal edict: that they make known to him the meaning of his dreams.
However, he refused to tell them what the dream was, expecting them to tell him both the dream and its meaning.
You see, Nebuchadnezzars faith in the supernatural was matched only by his doubt of those professing power over it. So to add a touch of surety to their efforts, Nebuchadnezzar established a penalty clause for failure:
Their houses would be burnt down and they would be chopped into small pieces.
Knowing his wise men didn't always tell him the truth (and I'm not really surprised if this was the type of requests he made), this was his litmus test. If they could tell him his dream, he'd have complete confidence in their interpretation of it.
Though ensuring only the truth for the king, his edict left the wise men in a terrifying predicament. Their response? To tell the king that his request is impossible, unfair even, and too much to ask of any man. Which, as responses from a nations wisest men go, turned out not to be the smartest thing they could have said; especially to a king short on quality sleep.
In a sudden sleep-deprived rage, the king commands that all wise men in all of Babylon be destroyed... All of them! So far the wise men are not having a good day.
The king replied to the astrologers, "This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble."
— Daniel 2:5
Daniel—considered ten times wiser than all in Babylon— suddenly finds himself at the top of the kings hit list.
However, when the soldiers arrive to kill Daniel, he manages to forestall his execution by requesting an audience with the king. Beseeching the king, he requests more time in which to seek an answer to the dream and its interpretation; a request the king grants.
Wasting no time, Daniel immediately seeks help from the font of all knowledge, the one to whom even the thoughts and intents of our hearts are known—his God. Seeking God's mercy concerning this secret dream of the king, and being found a righteous man, God grants Daniels request. That very night he receives in a vision, both the king's dream and its interpretation.
Before rushing off to tell the king, Daniel takes time to praise and thank his God for hearing and saving him; a characteristic seen throughout Daniels life; a man who always took the time to honour God first, even in the face of execution.
Daniel then goes to the king. Giving all credit to God, he reveals to Nebuchadnezzar both his dream and its meaning.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was a prophetic one, concerning the empires that would follow after the Babylonians up to the time that Christ would establish his everlasting kingdom, the Church.
Nebuchadnezzar, recognising the supernatural nature of Daniels knowledge, prostrates himself before his servant. Praising and honouring both Daniel and the God whom he serves, he promotes Daniel to the position of ruler of the whole province of Babylon and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon (those still living).
We read of at least one more dream of Nebuchadnezzar's that Daniel interprets. A dream that dealt with the humbling of the king, written by Nebuchadnezzar himself. In it Nebuchadnezzar praises and worships God for his greatness, honouring Daniel as one on whom the Spirit of the Holy God lives.
The Writings On The Wall
After Nebuchadnezzar’s death, time passes and we read of Belshazzar, likely the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, becoming king.
One day, being in the mood for a party, or just wanting to show off, Belshazzar decides to give a great feast for one thousand of his nobles. While drinking the wine of the feast, Belshazzar commands that the drinking vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple at Jerusalem, be brought before him so that his nobles may drink wine from them. While drinking from these vessels, they began to praise the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. At which point the fingers of a hand suddenly appear out of thin air. Fingers that begin to write on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace.
You can only imagine the terror that spread throughout the room at the sight of this wonder. Such terror that Belshazzar’s knees knocked and his legs gave way. In his terror he calls out very loudly for all his astrologers, magicians and soothsayers, promising them that the one able to read the writing on the wall will be promoted to the third ruler over the whole kingdom.
Long story short, the wise men decide to be honest, confessing their inability to read the words. However, it is the king's wife, the queen, who remembers Daniel, chief of the wise men, telling Belshazzar that the Spirit of the Holy God dwells with Daniel, as well as great wisdom and understanding.
So Belshazzar promptly summons his chief wise man and offers him the same reward offered the others; that if he can interpret the words on the wall, he will become the third most powerful over Babylon.
Because God was with him, Daniel interprets the words on the wall.
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
They were a message to Belshazzar, who, unlike his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar, had failed to humble himself before God, choosing instead to lift himself up in the pride and worship of useless idols instead of the one true God who held his life in his hands. The words on the wall told Belshazzar three things:
MENE: God has numbered Belshazzar's kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL: Belshazzar has been judged and found wanting.
UPHARSIN: The kingdom would be given to the Medes and Persians.
Keeping his promise, Belshazzar promotes Daniel to the position of the third ruler over the whole kingdom.
Malevolent Men And A Foolish Old King
Daniel's new position proves to be a title of fleet worth. For on the very night that Daniel was promoted, the words on the wall were fulfilled. Belshazzar is slain and the kingdom was given over to the Medes and Persians.
One such king of the Medes was Darius.
Darius was crowned at the age of sixty-two and is known to have established one-hundred-and-twenty officials to rule over the provinces of his kingdom. In charge of these officials, Darius placed three governors. As you might have guessed, Daniel was one of those.
Daniel was a hard-working individual who did his job well. So well, in fact, that Darius lets it be known that he is considering elevating Daniel to the ruler of the entire realm, in place of the others.
Upon hearing of this threat to their power, the other officials begin to seek a way in which to discredit Daniel; to cause him to lose face before Darius. However, Daniels integrity and lifestyle prove to be irreproachable; they can find no fault with which to incriminate him. Except, that is, his faith. How might they use Daniel greatest strength—his faith— against him?
Going therefore to the king, and playing on Darius’ pride, these officials and governors propose that a royal statute be signed which forbade for thirty days any request to any god or man except to the king. A statute that, if broken, would result in the guilty being thrown to the lions. The king rather foolishly agrees to and signs this statute.
Something important to note at this point is that the Medes and Persians had a law. A law stipulating that any statute signed personally by the king was irreversible.
So what is poor Daniel to do?
Upon hearing of this statute, Daniel immediately opens his windows towards Jerusalem and petitions his God. He does this three times that day. An activity the officials and other governors had anticipated and planned for. On spying Daniel making request of his God, they rush off to tell the king.
Upon hearing their accusations, the king becomes angry at himself; for he appreciated and admired Daniel greatly. For the rest of that day, he strives to deliver Daniel from harm's way. Yet, in the end, even the king must bow to those laws the throne binds him to. So in misery, Darius commands that Daniel be thrown to the lions; but not before taking time to comfort Daniel with surprising words of faith; Darius believed God would deliver Daniel from harm.
That night Darius was in turmoil. And very early the next morning he races to the lion's den and shouts in a grievous voice,
“Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you continually serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Whatever doubts Darius may have had as to whether or not he would receive an answer, they are quickly and thoroughly removed. Daniel shouts back to the king;
“O King, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.”
On hearing Daniel, the king, overwhelmed with joy, quickly has him removed from the den. In his place, he throws all those officials and governors and their unfortunate families, who had incriminated Daniel.
After this event, Darius writes another decree. In it, all men everywhere are commanded to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. This signed royal decree became an unchangeable law of the Medes and Persians.
Now apart from the many prophetic dreams and visions that Daniel had, which all make fascinating study, what I have just related is basically the story of Daniels life; or that part revealed to us through scripture.
Daniels life is a tapestry of great lessons. God used him as a light to those around him. Through him, they witnessed something of the glory of God, kings even converted by the experience.
One such king was Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the most powerful of all nations. Possessing almost unlimited wealth and influence, Nebuchadnezzar yet concluded that without God he was nothing. Take an example from that. No matter who you are, it is only because of God that you have lasting value.
In much of the book of Daniel, he prophecies of a time when God would establish an everlasting kingdom that would ultimately overthrow all others. When we go to the New Testament, we see that this kingdom referred to the body of Christ’s followers—Christians. A body of people that through obedient faith have had their sins forgiven and been adopted as children of God, part of a kingdom that will last forever after this world has gone.
If you are not a Christian, then God's invitation is open to you. Will you choose, as those kings did, to put God first and above all in your life, to become a citizen of his kingdom?
- Why Daniel Refused the King's Food
Although many aspects of his new life were objectionable, how did Daniel know to draw the line at taking the king's food and drink?
© 2020 Richard Parr
North Wind from The World (for now) on February 28, 2020:
Interesting question about moderation. I honestly don't know. There are so many factors that contribute to this and people react differently to foods, plant and animal based. Some can't tolerate dairy while for others dairy sustains them.
In my exploration of the many diets of people (it is a topic that intrigues me), there are many who have had extreme success completely vegan and extreme success eating in the Mediterranean way. Some swear by the Paleo diet, others say Keto is it and then there is the Carnivore diet and the Fruitarian diet (which both startled me, I must say). I have heard testimony from all of the groups who practise eating this way that their health has been much improved. I have also heard testimony from all those groups who practise eating this way that their health has deteriorated and that they had to add some things to balance it out etc. or get off of the diets entirely.
It is interesting that you mentioned the industrial revolution because I think the common thread with all these diets and those who feel better on them is the elimination of processed foods.
It seems that if you eat foods close to their original make up you may have less problems.
The modern day wheat and corn is not what they used to be either and perhaps that is why there are so many with gluten allergies and intolerance of gluten products in general.
I agree that discernment is a gift given to us by God but I also think that those before us had discernment.TCM is estimated to be 2,000 years old ( I have read 6,000 as well) and Ayurveda is about 5,000 years old.
Admittedly, there are medical practices of the past that were completely bogus but I think that there may be some today that we are certain to be effective but could prove to be null and void in the future.
Mankind will not always be right.
We do know a lot about the body, but there is a long way to go and I do not think we will ever get there because we are not the Creator of the body.
I acknowledge the studies of the diets of those who live longest in the world but I would like to point out that those places you mentioned are also places where honouring your parents and elders is/was the norm. Ephesians 6:2
It would be interesting to know if those who ate whatever they wanted and still lived to their hundreds honoured those who gave them life as well.
Then there would be no exception to the rule, would there?
As for we are what we eat: Matthew 4:4. I will stubbornly reiterate that I cannot take a single breath without God's say so. 2 Kings 4:38-31, Mark 16:18, Exodus 15: 22-26
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on February 27, 2020:
@Northwind ~ Your comments always get me thinking.
Personally, I find the term 'moderation' confuses the healthy diet debate; people having different ideas of moderation.
Many would take it to mean you can eat anything in equal amounts to anything else, as long as your not a pig about it. But is that true? Or does moderation have more to do with the circumspect way food eating should be approached? That the eaten amount of any food group is not to be governed by some pound for pound equivalence, but by factors more to do with nutritional need, harm incurred from over-indulgence, and impact upon the environment and my fellowman. By those criteria, eating in moderation is about judging each food group on its own merits and ills rather than comparing it to another.
Although true that every food group contains nutrients, it's not true that every food group is carcinogenic if eaten in more than small amounts. Some food groups cannot be eaten in equal amount to others without causing harm for the majority of people.
on that, I think we have to be careful not to use exceptions to create rules. Yes, eat too much of any one thing and you'll likely suffer for it (I was hospitalised once for drinking too much water). Yes, there are examples of people that have eaten whatever they wanted and enjoyed old age. I've known many smokers justify the habit by pointing out seven-decade chain smokers that lived to ninety. But the exception isn't the rule, it merely establishes the rule: most people die earlier than they would have when they choose to smoke.
Regarding the longest-lived, healthiest people: 'the healthiest populations around the world do eat a little bit of animal food – but not much. The healthiest, longest-living people in Africa, Asia, India, South America, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East eat diets that are about 95% plant-based, on average, and only about 5% animal food. That equates to eating meat a few times per week to a few times per month. What we don’t know is whether or not this small amount of animal food is actually health-promoting, or if it’s just not enough to hurt them...' (Chris Wark - Square One)
As to what we can know regarding our length of days and causes of illness, man isn't as ignorant as he once was. By Gods gracious gift of human acuity, we now know much about illness; what causes it, what helps in preventing it and what alleviates it.
That said, God is sovereign, and we need to view all things through the lens of his purposes, with confidence in his power over all our circumstance. But I don't think that precludes the exercise of discernment on our part. More than any other time in history we need to be exercising discernment in regard our food. We are very much what we eat, and what we eat has changed dramatically since the industrial revolution to something quite different than God originally designed.
North Wind from The World (for now) on February 24, 2020:
Thank you for your detailed answer, Parrster. It seems that we did not understand each other at all. My point was that the word of God seems to advocate a balanced diet and that everything, whether plant based, animal by-product or meat, should be eaten in moderation.
There are many plants when eaten in excess that bring on illness as well. I can testify to that having almost poisoned myself eating too much yuca.
Sometimes your blood pressure, if normal, can go astronomically low and you may not know why but it is because you eat cucumbers day and night.
Again, speaking from experience.
God provided a variety of foods that bring different nutrients and our bodies need a little bit of everything including some of the nutrients that meat, or animal by-products give to us.
Finally, all of those studies were done with one purpose - to see how food can make mankind live longer - which was my original point - how long we live all depends on God and there is nothing we can do about it. When those who attain the young age of a hundred are asked what they eat they always vary. One lady lived on raw eggs and meat. Another lived plant based. Another ate bacon everyday.
Then we can mention the Queen Mother and the Queen herself who both enjoy a bit of everything but in moderation.
We cannot know how long we will live. We cannot know what will make us ill or healthy. All is in the hands of God and the sooner we know that, the sooner we can go to His feet and ask Him for good health and long life.
I would like to add that I believe this is what you did since you seem to love His words and heed them. Matthew 7: 7-12
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on February 21, 2020:
@Tamarajo ~ Yes, the eunuch scenario does put a whole new spin on Daniels experience. He strikes me as such a strong-minded individual.
Being only a summary of Daniels life, I only touched on some of the prophecies. But they are fascinating, and a subject I want to study and understand more fully.
Thank you for your empathy and encouragement. The past twelve months aren't ones I wish to repeat, but not ones I'd give back either. The paradox of suffering. It has been confronting but enlightening, and ultimately, hopefully, made me a more useful vessel for God.
We are what we eat the saying goes. Our society eats like the kings of old and unfortunately gets their ailments too.
Thanks for your comments and encouragement.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on February 21, 2020:
@Northwind ~ I've enjoyed our little debate and appreciate your thoughts. My responses below roughly correlate to your comments, and I have provided links as I thought appropriate.
I hear what you're saying, and it's true, humans tend to want most what they need least; think alcohol, sugar, white flour and salt. Like these, meat is something humans do best with less of rather than more; in fact, we didn't originally need it to thrive, and there's significant evidence to suggest we still don't.
Animal meat was a luxury item and consumed in moderation for that reason. Given the opportunity, we know people will eat it copiously, but that isn't a good argument to declare it a healthy staple?
True, in ancient times animal meat was an expensive commodity. Such that in traditional farming cultures, what lived in the stable made it only rarely to the table. However, more pertinent reasons existed than poverty. Sheep, goats and cattle were very labour-intensive to raise, which is why meat was reserved for special occasions, like a royal visit or the return of a long-lost son.
As already said, compared to plant-based produce, meat delivered less return on effort and resources given to raise it, so it was not relied on as a staple. Further, animals were valued as the heavy machinery of the ancient world, as well as providers of leather, wool and fur. Also, unlike our refrigerated abilities today, if more animals were slaughtered than could be consumed in ancient times, Gods-design would limit its edible fresh period. Time-consuming preservation methods were required to make meat last while also changing its taste and texture to a far less desirable state than freshly cooked. Plant-based food, on the other hand, could be harvested piecemeal as required and/or were far easier to store for lengthier periods of time. On the point of curing meat: In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified processed meat, that is, meat that has undergone salting, curing, fermenting, or smoking, as "carcinogenic to humans".
Although the kings (super-rich) court regularly ate meat, most ancient middle class, and even those wealthier, ate meat only sparingly. Copious meat consumption wasn't a rich/poor divide as much as it was a simple supply/demand issue. Unlike our mechanised modern meat industry, ancient meat production was limited to natures unforced provision; almost as if God was saying 'this is something I want you to eat sparingly'. It strikes me that whenever people try to push beyond natures designed boundaries, problems arise.
Interesting that you should raise the health problems of the rich and poor. One study compared health impacts of the global omnivorous diet with those reported for traditional Mediterranean, pescatarian and vegetarian diets. Adopting these alternative diets could drastically reduce the incidence of type II diabetes, cancer and death from heart disease relative to the omnivore diet. Diseases far less common in plant-based diet societies.
Unfortunately, we have adopted the diet of ancient kings, and suffer copiously their diseases as a result.
On a side note: Nutritional epidemiologist Micaela Karlsen observes in her article, Do Different People Need Radically Different Diets? “Human beings are one species; we are all the same animal, with the same digestive physiology. And, as is true of all species, we do not require personalized nutritional programs unless we are dealing with a specific disease or some other very unusual condition...
God wouldn't have had to tell the Israelites to eat meat sparingly, by natures design meat was harder and slower to come by than plant-based produce, and yielded far less return on time, energy and resources as did plant crops.
It's not poverty that promotes the eating of plant-based foods as much as common sense. Some of the richest societies in the world eat a predominantly plant-based diet. Wealth wasn't the primary factor behind limiting animal meat intake, nature and return on investment of time and energy were.
You seem to be applying the term plant-based differently than me. I understand it to simply mean that animal meat is not the chief part of one's diet. Fish, though meat, is a far healthier option than animal meat if it is to be consumed regularly. Further, it was cheap because it required far less effort in time and resources to procure, and was far more abundantly available than animal meat; again, as if God were saying, 'this you can eat more of.' You will generally find that the less crop-producing land available to coastal societies, the more they will lean on seafood as a staple. Japan is a good modern-day example.
I don't think everything in life falls under a clear condemning/condoning paradigm. Rather many things God has left for man to determine through the exercise of wisdom and discernment; its use or misuse bringing about a type of judgement upon ourselves.
Further thoughts and quotes:
'Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.'
A very informative paper put out through the most respected of medical journals, LANCET, speaks of the need for western society to return to a plant-based diet. I quote, 'A large body of work has emerged on the environmental impacts of various diets, with most studies concluding that a diet rich in plant-based foods and with fewer animal source foods confers both improved health and environmental benefits.'
Tamarajo on February 21, 2020:
I never considered that Daniel may very well have been made a eunuch.
This was an interesting overview of Daniels extreme faith during hostile situations.
I liked the connection with Daniels prophecies and the coming Christ of the New Testament.
In reading the comments Im sorry to hear your battling cancer and glad to know that the plant based diet is helping. A wise decision. I just recently read an article about how what we eat actually effects our ability to think.
I did a plant based diet the first 21 days of the year and I had the same results as you. My skin and hair were the most notable. I imagine that our western high meat/dairy based diets are most likely comparative to "the kings dainties" in the Daniel narrative.
It is my understanding that meat was not a main course in the ancient diet but was reserved for special occasions such as the appearance of Abraham's guests and covenant meals.
God bless your healing journey.
North Wind from The World (for now) on February 20, 2020:
I have read the link and looked at other websites as well. What you are saying is that for most meat was not available but that they would eat it if they could. Does that make the rich wrong in eating the meat they could gain? Does that make those in poverty healthier?
I am not so sure.
As for Noah, that sounds likely but then why did God tell the children of Israel the list of meats to eat in the book of Leviticus and not tell them to eat it sparingly if plant based was better? He spelled out everything for them in the laws and told them exactly how to act and what to do. Why not that?
I understand that poverty causes more plant based foods to be eaten and less meat (which is what I stated before) but that is true all around the world. How does this show that God preferred them to eat mostly plant based? He said that we will always have the poor with us in this world. Both the poor and the rich suffer from illnesses, disease and death.
The king's table was not a small table. It was for quite a lot of people. The royal family, the nobles, the vassals, the favourites (of which the book of Daniel refers to Daniel 1:3-7). These people would have had regular access to meat.
The Bible also says that in Solomon's day silver was as common as stone. Doesn't this mean that the general population of Israel fared far better than they ever did and more people lived in luxury than before? If so, then why would they restrain themselves from meat? Is there some data or research that exists that shows the rich people during that time who regularly ate meat lived shorter lives than the poor ones?
I can't believe that because some of those kings were the servants of God who obeyed the first commandment with a promise and therefore lived long lives eating the meat as they did every day.
Why did Jesus and His disciples regularly eat fish? When he fed the 5,000 and the 4,000, He fed them fish and bread. Why not just bread and cheese or honey etc.if it was better for them? He only gave the best re: the water turned to wine.
I think that all of Israel would have eaten meat more regularly if they could without fear of condemnation from God or thinking that their health would be in jeopardy.
Finally, He blessed them with life in Egypt through the eating of the Passover lamb (the center of the meal) while the Egyptians died because they did not have the blood on the doorposts or eat the lamb and bitter herbs.
I just can't stretch my mind to say that God condones a mostly plant based diet because then that would mean He condemns one that involves regular intake of meat which would not be true. He didn't say either. To me, that would be putting words in the mouth of God.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on February 19, 2020:
@North WInd ~ I understand a plant-based diet to simply mean that plant-sourced foods are the foundational staple. Animal sourced food is allowed, although God's instruction to Noah to eat animals was primarily a pragmatic one, the flood would have destroyed any current plant crops, and months would pass before the next harvest; they would have starved without God's allowance regarding animals.
For most ancient people, meat was eaten only a few times a year when animals were slaughtered for the major festivals, or at tribal meetings, celebrations such as weddings, and for the visits of important guests (1 Samuel 28:24). Only at the king's table was meat served daily, according to the Bible.
This link provides a good overview of the typical Israeli diet.
North Wind from The World (for now) on February 19, 2020:
I agree that they were foods that would heal and not harm but I am not sure where it says that it is mostly plant-based. That makes no sense according to all that is written in the Bible. It was God who accepted Abel's sacrifice of lamb and rejected Cain's which came from the earth because the ground is cursed as a result of sin. He also told Noah that man had to consume animals after the flood and He has not said differently since. There must be a reason why.
It was God who accepted Abel's sacrifice of lamb and rejected Cain's which came from the earth because the ground is cursed as a result of sin. He outlined the meats that the children of Israel were allowed to consume :beef, chicken, goat, lamb - even locusts, for John the Baptist ate them.
If God condones a plant based diet then why didn't Jesus follow one since it was superior?
I can't say that they mostly ate plants because it looks like they had a very balanced diet. I believe that plants had a part but so did meat. Only the very poor would eat only plants because it was the cheapest food available.
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. :)
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on February 18, 2020:
@North Wind ~ That was a good answer, and where I thought you were coming from. I tend to think that Gods dietary instructions to Israel went beyond a mere test of obeisance. They were actually pragmatically based on what was best for them; foods that would heal, not harm. When the Hebrew diet is examined it is a plant-based diet, other food groups far less frequently consumed. I think modern western readers can learn from Daniels example the benefits of obedience, but also the very pragmatic one that plant-based diets are probably the superior way to eat, condoned by God even. :)
North Wind from The World (for now) on February 18, 2020:
My reasoning is simple - the reason that the four rejected the foods presented to them was because eating those foods would make them unclean according to Scriptures. The fact that they considered the words of God and did not hide that fact was a perfect opportunity for God to glorify His name. It was the first instance of God showing the Babylonians that His people were different and He continued to show them all through the years of captivity. This plant based diet was only practiced because they were in captivity and could not be sure of the food that may have been offered to idols. Remember that the Passover celebration included the lamb which was sanctified by God Himself. Their appearances radiated because of their obedience. God's words were the most important and they considered Him first.
Since God chose His people He has always shown that they are set apart and do not thrive the way others thrive.
When the Egyptians tried to work them to death they multiplied and were as healthy as horses.
Who could live in the desert for forty years and multiply instead of die out?
Who could defeat the armies of Pharaoh without raising a finger?
How was Sennacherib defeated?
God's mighty hand, that is how. I can't see it any other way.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on February 17, 2020:
@North Wind ~ There have definitely been some exceptional people of faith throughout biblical history; chosen, I think, because they were exceptional, and therefore polished by God to a special lustre.
I find it interesting that you attribute Daniel and his friends' appearance to a special act of God rather than simple adherence to approved foods. What is your reasoning behind that conclusion?
Thank you for offering to pray for me, that is comforting and appreciated.
North Wind from The World (for now) on February 17, 2020:
Daniel really did have a way of life that is to be imitated. I often think to myself, 'How did he do it? How did Jeremiah do it and Ezekiel? How did John the Baptist?' and the list goes on and on. The turmoil and upheaval surrounded these men of God and yet they stood firm.
Only because of God, that is for certain.
I know that many people believe in Daniel's diet and the merits of it - my point of view is torn. I know that God made it so that they four looked better than the others and I also understand that a plant based diet works well for some but not for others. We are all a bit different inside. Some have allergies while others do not.
The doctors and scientists all have generic treatments for each and every one of us but we are all individuals. The only One who has a customized treatment for each and every one of us is God because He built us from scratch.
I am pleased to hear that you have been doing well on a plant based diet and even more pleased to hear that you are living proof that God has the final say and not man.
I will remember you in my prayers, Richard Parr.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on February 16, 2020:
@Wesman Todd Shaw ~ thanks for commenting. I've added a link at the end of the article that addresses your 'rich food' question. Personally I think there's a lot of merit to a plant-based diet. Having recently been diagnosed with cancer, and trying a vegetarian diet now for seven months, I am amazed at its benefits. Even with cancer (and I was given 6 months to live, 10 months ago), I feel an overall sense of wellbeing I have not felt before. And, as with Daniel and his friends, my complexion has cleared, my nails are blemish-free, and my hair is shiny without washing. Not sure what else I can put it down to. I don't believe the scriptures are primarily advocating a certain diet, but I find most people in our western culture are very quick to poo-poo the idea that Daniels health was the result of his diet. Other cultures not so. The proof is in the pudding as far as I'm concerned. All that said, I think the lessons from Daniels life go deeper than what he ate :)
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on February 12, 2020:
First off, it would be highly instructive to know what kinds of foods these where which were "too rich," or whatnot, for to be healthy. Otherwise, without such knowledge, I can in no way think of this as endorsing any sort of vegetarian diet.
In fact, I'm an honest man, and reject vegetarianism altogether.
Thank you for your publishing of this. I've not been reading Bible at all for years now, it was something I used to do a whole lot of. In my mind, the story is quite different, however, I have zero reasons to think you stated any of it unfaithfully - and so, I can reasonably conclude that I have simply confused things in my own head, and should ...well, chide myself for it.